January 14, 2016

Trademarks for Your Body Parts

by Guest Blogger

Does your look define you? Is your style or physical appearance your personal trademark? Trademarks, by definition, can be anything that serves to identify the source of goods or services. Most trademarks are words or designs, but there are other non-traditional marks as well. Examples of registered non-traditional trademarks include:


â like the red sole of a Christian Louboutin shoe


SOUND â like the NBC Chimes[audio mp3="Consisting" class="redactor-autoparser-object">http://www.trademarkologist.co... of a succession of three distinct pitches sounded in order: G3, E4 and C4. For my fellow musicians, that is an arpeggiated C-major chord in the second inversion.


Some individuals are said to have a "trademark" style. As we start gearing up for basketball's "third month of the calendar year craziness" [sorry, NCAA rules prohibit use of the actual name], I have been thinking about the trademark style of basketball players.

NBA All-Star James Harden is first in the lineup with his infamous beard. Harden's facebook page touts his moniker FEAR THE BEARD. Here he is in his twitter profile picture:


Harden's beard has become so popular, it has its own twitter account.


Although James Harden does not have a trademark registration for his beard (yet), his beard is featured on merchandising. He started growing the beard in college, basically out of laziness, but started noticing fans coming to games with fake beards. The beard has been with him through the Olympics and now to an MVP award from the National Basketball Players Association.

If you don't Fear the Beard, perhaps you will Fear the Brow. I know I do. Anthony Davis has a distinctive unibrow that many females invest heavily to avoid. He has obtained trademark registrations for the words FEAR THE BROW, RAISE THE BROW, and BROW DOWN, among others. His distinctive brow (singular) is shown below:


Michael Jordan's tongue is another example. His tongue was generally hanging out of his mouth when he played:


And of course, no discussion of basketball players with distinctive looks would be complete without a nod to Dennis Rodman, who needs no description.

If you are a style icon, what does this mean for you? Can you register your "trademark" look? To be registrable, you have to associate a "look" with a particular product or service. For celebrities, their signature style or look is primarily protected through a right of publicity rather than through trademarks. However, if they start merchandising their look onto goods, such as t-shirts, then you could establish trademark rights to those goods.

Here's one of Anthony Davis's shirts with his registered mark FEAR THE BROW from his website FearTheBrow.org:


Perhaps the prospect of a personal unibrow is too scary for consumers, because it doesn't look like much brow merchandise is actually available for purchase. Davis got registrations because he was afraid other people would start growing unibrows (really???) and try to make money off of his style.

A trademark registration is recommended because it affords you a presumptive right to use the mark in the entire United States, in addition to other benefits. If you don't have a federal registration, then your trademark rights are going to be geographically limited to the area where you have actual customers and sales. Do you have a registration? If not, we can help.

Don't believe beards could be trademarks? Then check out this link describing NBA stars you may not recognize without their beards.